With all of the ugliness of election season behind us, and happy winter times ahead, it’s time to make our mechanized shopping list for Santa. Will you choose a hybrid supercar, opulently luxurious sedan, or delicious scoop of Italian crossover? However you like your fantasy sleigh, one of these should put a sparkle in your car park.
2017 Acura NSX
Not every hybrid is about earning evergreen at a Christmas party. This one uses its battery pack, placed behind the seats, to “supercharge” performance. Acura does not have a V8 or V12 engine, so engineers started with a 3.5-liter V6 engine with dry sump lubrication and pumped with the hybrid system to blow out a combined 573 horsepower, 476 lb.-ft. of torque, and 191 mph top speed. Put that in your reindeer and smoke it!
How this works is as complicated as a Cabbage Patch Baby So Real. A Direct Drive Motor, between the engine and a 9-speed dual clutch transmission, attaches directly to the driveshaft for smooth acceleration. In launch mode, it cuts 0.5s off the 0-60 mph time. Snow-blowing all-wheel-drive is accomplished with two independent electric motors on the front wheels. Keep boots out of throttle to see 21/22-MPG city/hwy. Like I said, this hybrid is about performance, not saving frankincense or myrrh.
Keeping this sleek sleigh dancing is a lightweight multi-material spaceframe under an aero-tuned body that enhances downforce to the rear and increases high speed stability through a carbon fiber rear diffuser and flying buttress roof. Magnetic ride control adjusts the suspension 1,000 times per second; Brembo regenerative brakes help replenish the batteries. Quiet, Sport, Sport +, and Track modes adjust performance and exhaust note from silent night to 2 a.m. holiday party.
That gets Santa anywhere he wants quickly, but only he and The Mrs. fit inside. A cabin designed around “Functional Minimalism” is as comfortable as a winter fire pit, but up to sporting pursuits. Leather and Alcantara seats, oblong leather-wrapped steering wheel with hidden stitching, and padded surfaces feels better than caressing cashmere. Crank up the Holiday tunes with ELS Studio® Premium Audio by Grammy award winner Elliot Scheiner. Nine speakers and 580-watt amplifier keeps notes crisp at a walk or approaching 200 mph.
Santa won’t have to travel far to pick up this gift. It’s built in Marysville, Ohio with a $156,000 base price.
2017 Mercedes-Maybach S600
Whenever a wish list of the “World’s Best Cars” is compiled, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is almost always on it. You can buy more extravagant gifts, but not a better one. However, there is always unspent money in billionaire bank accounts that asks for more – more leather, wood, electronics, legroom, and shiny tinsel. This car is a mini-limo around the city or a continental cruiser beyond reproach.
No high-flying private sleigh has a more lavish cabin. A stretched wheelbase adds rear seat legroom and space for reclining lounge chairs upholstered in quilted leather, heated and cooled, and with individual entertainment screens. Handcrafted wood trim, aluminum accents, rear seat massagers, heated/cooled cupholders, and heated armrests impress kings and princes from afar. Crank up your favorite holiday tunes on the 24-speaker Burmester 3D Audio system with 1,540-watt amp, adjust the ambient lighting to “northern lights” soft blue, and settle in for a long winter’s night. Insert your favorite scent in the cabin atomizer for sugar plum dreams.
Drivers get their own comforting helm with full view of a big star to guide their way. Twin dash screens project instruments and infotainment functions while head-up display and active parking assist keep driving simple. A self-centering system steers the car at speed – even around corners (but, please keep hands on the reins). Crash avoidance systems include forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, rear cross path detection, and lane keep assist. That should keep lacquer unscratched.
Slap the reindeer – or rather, plant your loafer into the 6.0-liter V12 biturbo engine that conjures 523 horsepower and 0-60 mph in 5.0s. A seven-speed automatic transmission, 20” wheels, and all-wheel-drive puts miles between poles – no matter the frightful weather. An air suspension that anticipates bumps and proactively adjusts for them provides a ride that rivals a sky-borne gift-hauler. A $191,300 base price may require The Big Guy’s buying power.
2017 Maserati Levante
Named for the Mediterranean wind that can change direction and force instantly, kinda like one of Santa’s fleet-footed sky mammals, Levante puts an Italian ribbon on an American invention. That’s appropriate since Maserati is part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. It’s the brand’s first crossover and is based on Ghibli sedan architecture. But, let’s hop in this big boy toy and go for a ride.
Resembling a boutique hotel, the cabin harbors the finest materials – premium leather, Ermenegildo Zegna silk, and polished planks of timber. It looks like a TUMI fashion store, but adds a panoramic electric sunroof, touch screen with redundant rotary control knob, and a full array of safety tech like adaptive cruise control with auto start/stop, forward collision mitigation, and lane departure warning systems. Let that guide you through any blizzard. Blind spot alert, surround view camera, and power tailgate add convenience.
Under exotic Italian metal-flesh is a 3.0-liter TwinTurbo V6 engine delivering 350 horsepower or 430 horsepower, depending on package. A 275 horsepower turbo-diesel V6 is also on-banquet. All engines come with all-wheel-drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission to shift power about. In top form, Levante leaps like an elf from 0-60 mph in 5.0s on the way to a 164 mph top speed. Four-corner air springs provides a ride so comfortable that old granny wouldn’t even fluff her nightcap. Raise it up to clear snow or rutted trails.
Like an over-stuffed toy store, the world does not need another crossover. Yet, there’s just something delicious enough about the Levante to clear space for a tasty morsel from Turin, Italy. Write a check for at least $72,000 to gift one today.